How to take my violin making career to the next level?


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45 minutes ago, Larry F said:

Wise advice.  As for the second best advice-underneath the casual exterior Zappa was all business.  I had the opportunity to attend one of his rehearsals in the early 70's (72?) when I had a few "friends of friends" playing in his band.  Very formal, everything was charted,  band members were expected of arrive on time, know how to read charts, and even the movements of the band members were choreographed and rehearsed.  He was a  consummate professional.

Neat!

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3 hours ago, Larry F said:

Wise advice.  As for the second best advice-underneath the casual exterior Zappa was all business.  I had the opportunity to attend one of his rehearsals in the early 70's (72?) when I had a few "friends of friends" playing in his band.  Very formal, everything was charted,  band members were expected of arrive on time, know how to read charts, and even the movements of the band members were choreographed and rehearsed.  He was a  consummate professional.

Yup. Larry, you've managed to navigate all the twists and turns of our profession pretty well.

Anyone whose primary focus is on the "romance" of our profession, is probably not destined to come out very well. If anyone thinks that success in our profession is even remotely related to "going any way the wind blows",  or following their "spirit", or having fantasies that if one has been a middle-school football player hero, they can go on to earn millions of dollars as a pro, there will be lots of wakeup calls forthcoming.

Becoming a successful fiddle maker takes at least a little level of smarts, and the ability to make good choices. I have had at least some level of interaction with most of 'em, so that's why I think I am qualified to assert all of the above. "Wet dreams" alone ain't gonna cut it.

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The OP provided photos of his work as requested.  I would love to hear feedback from the experts on at least what you can see from the pics.   To my amateur eye it looks pretty good, especially since the OP is working with minimal tools.   Is that finish intentionally antiqued?  It is a nice color.  

 

 

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5 hours ago, Jluthier said:

...I would love to hear feedback from...what you can see from the pics...

It looks like professional-quality work to me.  All the more impressive for having been done without gouges.

 

5 hours ago, Jluthier said:

...Is that finish intentionally antiqued?...

Yes.

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2 hours ago, arglebargle said:

B*llsh*t.

Sorry, I just don't buy it.

Send me a neck block and I'll show ya.  

Some clarification is in order.  I do own a large, flat Mittenwald gouge for roughing out the plates; this I use for the larger parts of the spiral.  However, I don't own any other gouges, meaning that the majority of the scroll has to be done with other methods.  I use my knife, a scraper, and a curved fingerplane blade (which I sometimes use as a scraper).  I use a file for the chamfer.  I've normally sanded my scrolls, but I finished the viola scroll (see photo) with a scraper.  

It's a moot point now, because I've ordered a set of scroll gouges.  I've used scroll gouges before, and boy do they ever make it easy.  Hopefully I remember how to do it the "right" way.  

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10 hours ago, Jluthier said:

The OP provided photos of his work as requested.  I would love to hear feedback from the experts on at least what you can see from the pics.   To my amateur eye it looks pretty good, especially since the OP is working with minimal tools.   Is that finish intentionally antiqued?  It is a nice color.  

 

 

Thank you!  The varnish is homemade, from local resins and pigments.  I've had some mishaps with antiquing, but I think I've reached a point where it improves the appearance of the fiddle rather than detracts from it.  I am under no delusion that it looks like an old Italian (although I hope to be able to imitate those some day).  

I would not compare myself to professionals.  My corners have been ugly and my scrolls lopsided.  I like my varnish, but it can't pass for anything but amateur modern American.  I recognize these problems and I am making good progress to fix them-- but I still have a few more fiddles to make before criticism is a useful exercise.  

"the first 10 are just practice" -Karl Roy

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20 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Becoming a successful fiddle maker takes at least a little level of smarts, and the ability to make good choices. 

That's in addition to good tool skills and attention to detail, which seem to be quite decent judging by the photos.

Failing at marrying into money, definitely make a realistic plan on how to live without much money, at least for the first 5 to 10 years.  Food, housing, and all that. 

If you swing a stint at a violinmaking school, great... if you can get a foot in the door of a good shop or as a helper to a reputable maker, even better. (Caveat: I have done none of these, but took the route of working until I could afford to be a violinmaker with no income).

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Many wise words from Mr David and Mr Noon. 

I have to add here that someone has to take care of the current economical crisis (at least in South Europe, Eastern Europe, many places of America etc.).

This crisis, plus coronavirus, makes the future unpredictable. 

Also, the Chinese market becomes very strong and quality gets every day better. 

By examining one Hegel s (that is widely applicable on Marxistic and Socialistic environments) law:

Quantity turns to quality

Soon, East will conquer the high quality market in string instruments. 

So, everybody has to keep in mind that market changes drastically. 

But nothing to think a lot. Keep walking and do not be afraid of failure. 

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

(Beckett) 

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On 3/27/2021 at 6:17 AM, chiaroscuro_violins said:

I don't own any other gouges, meaning that the majority of the scroll has to be done with other methods.  I use my knife, a scraper, and a curved fingerplane blade (which I sometimes use as a scraper).  I use a file for the chamfer.  I've normally sanded my scrolls, but I finished the viola scroll (see photo) with a scraper.

I know 2 ways of making a scroll. 

1. You need gouges and a saw. 

2. You need a CNC

Do I miss something? 

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6 hours ago, Goran74 said:

I know 2 ways of making a scroll. 

1. You need gouges and a saw. 

2. You need a CNC

Do I miss something? 

Imagination perhaps? :)

I wouldn’t want to do it this way..., but can see making a scroll with a pocket knife and some scrapers.

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9 hours ago, Mark Norfleet said:

Imagination perhaps? :)

I wouldn’t want to do it this way..., but can see making a scroll with a pocket knife and some scrapers.

When I was 13 I carved my share of wooden spoons on scout summer camp this way (using the curved blade of pocket knife as a scraper). I didn't know gouges exist back then. After few, one fnds out some quite efficient ways to do it even with just one tool... kinda trains your patience.

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On 3/26/2021 at 5:51 AM, chiaroscuro_violins said:

Thankfully, I enjoy this kind of work quite a lot.  However, I'm just not that good at it yet.  I've got a lot of fiddles to practice with, but perhaps I should seek some further training in repairs.  

yes! very few make it on making alone as DB said repairs are bread and butter, and are in a way a completely different animal than new making My advice is to stay with violin making but also develop other career skills in other perhaps related fields of endeavor. In a world of kids who "learned to code" there is a massive shortage of people who, you know, actually know to do stuff with their hands and minds, the world of "trades" in construction is a huge empty and high paying choice. It can be brutal on the body over the years, but if you play your cards right you can be "controlling" by the time you are in your 40's and not be ding so much of the physical work.

Keep in mind if you go to someones house to build 40k worth of cabinets and you tell them your a "violin maker" too, well rich dudes just eat the sh@t up and if you really play your cards right you can sell their kid a violin and make the cabinets.

Fancy pants as the violin seems, it is still just a "construction project" and every skill, trick or method you develop will have cross over potential 

And finally the most important thing I can tell you is to move. I love rural, but rural is a place to go once you've made some money or are making money off "rural" such as a farmer. NOTHING * will happen for you if you stay in a po-dunk area with no "action" as far as "music" goes. You must get somewhere more cosmopolitan to gain exposure and CONNECTIONS, BECAUSE IN VIOLINS AS ANYTHING ELSE, what you know to a certain point has to be a given, you have to be good at what you do, but after that the NUMBER 1 thing that will most likely get you somewhere will be WHO YOU KNOW AND HOW MUCH DO THEY LIKE AND WANT TO HELP YOU.

No one makes it "alone" in the world or in business, cultivating mentors and friendships with people who are already "there" is 100% the most important thing you can work on

Violin school to a certain extent is an example of a place where lots of that goes on, but it is no guarantee of success

and then, what is success? there is money and then there is tone, learn to be happy if you only achieve "tonal success" and even if your the only one who knows or cares. 

good luck, let the theme song of mission impossible be your guide, because the impossible is possible, Impossible is just something that no one figured out before

*barring a unique successful web based business.

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Violin making is not a career, it's a disorder. Probably have a shortening too (like ADHD). If it hasn't I'm sure our fellow Americans can come up with something as they have shortening letters for everything.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/26/2021 at 9:05 AM, chiaroscuro_violins said:

I have sold my first, my third, and the viola.  The viola sold in less than two weeks after I set it up.  My second and fifth violin have never been for sale (my sister's and my personal instruments).  My fourth has been for sale for about four months.  I get a lot of business for repairs too, although I attribute this mainly to the fact that I don't charge enough for my work.  

Update: I have sold No. 4 as well.  For whatever it's worth.  

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